Topco introduces nutritional rating system

by Staff
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SKOKIE, ILL. — Topco Associates L.L.C., a national cooperative of grocery stores, is introducing a new food scoring system called the Overall Nutritional Quality Index, which is designed to allow consumers to quickly compare foods based on overall nutritional quality.

The new system is based on a scale of 1 to 100 and is expected to be available in thousands of retail grocery stores in the second half of 2008. Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and a group of nutritionists developed the O.N.Q.I., and the algorithm used to assign food scores considers 30 nutrient factors.

"Epidemics of obesity and diabetes suggest the toll of poor dietary choices on the public health," Dr. Katz said. "Dramatic improvements in health are possible with changes in diet, and the way to a better diet is through one informed choice at a time. The O.N.Q.I. provides a power tool — perhaps the most powerful tool — designed for that very job. The science behind the O.N.Q.I. is very sophisticated, yet the tool is simple to use."

The system is designed to score products in all food and beverage categories and may be applied to any food, meal or diet.

Topco Associates is not the first player in the food industry to introduce such a rating system. Hannaford Supermarkets introduced the Guiding Stars system in September 2006 to help Hannaford shoppers make more informed nutritional choices. The system features one, two or three star ratings — representing "good", "better" or "best" nutritional value, respectively, on unit price tags in all Hannaford stores. One year after the system was launched, Hannaford found consumer selection of foods offering more nutrition for the calories are outpacing selections of those that don’t in many aisles.

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